'King of Ghazals' Talat Mahmood was born in a highly cultured but conservative family in Lucknow, India, on Feb. 24, 1924. He was one amongst six children. Talat showed his musical leanings from a very young age and would enjoy sitting through all-night music soiree's listening patiently to some of the biggest names in Indian classical music. Later, for a very short period of time Talat studied music at Marris Music College, before people began noticing his natural singing talent and offers to sing began to pour in.
Talat Mahmood began his music career at the young age of 16 when he began singing the ghazals of Ghalib, Dagh, Mir and Jigar on All India Radio, Lucknow. His voice had a quality distinct from all other singers. HMV was quick to notice this and offered Talat his first disc in 1941, "Sab din ek samaan nahin tha, ban jaoonga kya se kya main, iska to kuch dhyan nahin tha". Indeed how prophetic were these words. Little did Talat know that he was soon to rise to become the greatest name in ghazals on the Indian sub-continent !
In 1944 came the smash hit "Tasveer teri dil mera behela na sakegi". It took the country by storm. It's popularity was so phenomenal and unrivalled that even today it remains one of the biggest non-film hits! This disc brought Talat fame throughout India and soon he was beckoned by the Calcutta Film Industry, which was then the premiere hub of film production in the 40's. Apart from singing many hits, Talat also acted in the first 3 of his 13 films there - "RAJLAXMI", "TUM AUR MAIN" and "SAMAPTI".
But fate had even bigger things in store for Talat and in 1949 he came to the Hollywood of India - Bombay. His name and fame had already preceded him and people in the Bombay Film Industry were already aware of this handsome and talented young singer and soon he was offered the song "Ae dil mujhe aisi jagha le chal jahan koi na ho" composed by the then reigning music director Anil Biswas and picturised on the great Dilip Kumar. The combination was electrifying ! The record was an overnight success and set the trend for the filmi ghazal.
In Talat Mahmood, the music directors found the perfect voice for ghazals. His diction and intonation were word perfect. His expressive style and emotional nuances were unparalleled. The mellowness, sweetness and pathos in his voice set him apart from all the other singers. Here was a voice that was fresh ! The style absolutely new !! He was unanimously hailed as "The King Of Ghazals", a title he consolidated over the period of years to become the greatest name in ghazals !!! His film solo's and romantic duets numbered in hundreds as hit after hit followed. Talat soon grew into a living legend.
However, the handsome young 'King of Ghazals' did not go unnoticed by the film producers, who besieged him with offers to act in their films. Such was Talat's aura, that for his film 'Dil-e-Nadaan', producer-director A.R. Kardar, launched an 'All India Beauty Contest' to hunt for a beautiful girl who would play the heroine opposite the young and immensely talented superstar Talat Mahmood !!! Talat was to finally accept 13 films with top heroines like Nutan, Mala Sinha, Suraiya, Shyama, Nadira and others before he decided that acting was not his forte. And hence, Talat gave up acting to concentrate on singing.
Towards the late 60's the filmi ghazals and good romantic songs gave way to the electronic rhythms of the disco generation. Disliking the new trend towards loud meaningless music, Talat decided to cut down his film singing assignments but continued his non-film ghazal recordings.
As a singer, Talat has already secured a place in history. Over the years, the King of Ghazals has created a catalogue of songs for generations to come. His fan following straddles the globe. He strides like a colossus in the field of ghazals - a KING whose name is surpassed by none !!!